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I found Holland to be the friendliest country we visited on this 1977 tour.  I only wish we had been there in the spring, when the tulips are in bloom.  We got to our hotel outside Amsterdam in early evening.  We stayed at the Hotel Ibis, now called the Hotel Ibis Amsterdam Airport.   The tour director warned everyone to stay there, and not go into the city.  I suppose Amsterdam had a rather bad reputation at the time.  Of course, several young guys who were traveling together headed straight for town.  They survived.  The next morning we had a real treat, a full buffet breakfast.  We were overjoyed.  All of the other breakfasts on the tour were of the continental variety - a sweet roll, juice and tea or sometimes not very good coffee.

Here are my few photos of Amsterdam.  Most are from the boat ride we took through the canals.  You can see that "whacky-terbacky" was freely available then.

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We proceed on to a fishing village named Volendam, which in Dutch, means "a dam which has been filled."  We went inside a "typical" home, where the inhabitants, a husband and wife, explained their lifestyle.  Outside, I saw, for the first time, boys wearing ear rings. My aunt took a few pictures, and here they are.

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Now, we were off again.  Here are a few pictures I took from the bus as we traveled through Dutch farm land on our way to Belgium.

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Here are the few decent photos I took in Brussels, Belgium.  We stayed at the Palace Hotel, now the Crowne Plaza.  We did the city tour at night, so there were few opportunities for taking pictures then.  The last photo is from a web site.  This is city center, which we saw at night. We did run into an irate waiter when we had dinner at a local restaurant.  Someone in our group dared to ask for a glass of water with her meal.  The waiter rather rudely told her off.  I think European restaurants have since adjusted to the American custom of drinking water with meals. 

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Of course, the most famous attraction in Brussels is the "Manneken Pis" statute.  My aunt, a prim and proper lady, was horrified when we saw this little boy.  He has his own web site, and the townspeople dress him in various costumes at times.  Here he is, from a web site.



On day 19, we headed into France.  When we got to our hotel in Paris, the Penta, a fellow behind the desk yelled  at us, telling us in no uncertain terms that we should not bother them by asking for mail until later in the evening.  Yes, the hotel is still there, only now it's called Mercure Paris La Defense. It is actually in the Paris suburb of Courbevoie, an easy (2 mile?) walk from downtown Paris.  

We did the standard city tour, and went as a group to a local restaurant one night.  Paris is a beautiful city, having wide streets lined with numerous trees.  Here are the photos I took.  Several attractions are easily recognizable.  The last photos are the Paris Opera and a restaurant known all over the world.  I had a problem when I scanned these slides.  I was using Afgacolor film I purchased in Europe, and it has developed blue-purple blotches that are not easily removed.  The color balance also is worse than with Kodacolor film.  I doctored it as much as I could.

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The day we took the subway downtown, I struck off on my own, going in the Louvre only long enough to view The Mona Lisa.  I found a restaurant on a side street where I saw a pinball machine, so I proceeded to play the game.  Soon, a group of local teens appeared to watch me play.  One asked me " parlez vous franšais?"  I just shook my head.  I did impress the kids with my expertise, and I gave them 20 free games I accumulated.  They about "merci"d me to death when I left.  I walked back the mile or two to the hotel, following the Seine as far as possible, so as not to get lost.  (It helps to carry a map when in a new city.)

One day, we took the tour to Versailles to visit the palace of the "Sun King," Louis XIV.  This was my second visit to a major royal palace, and I was duly impressed by the grandeur of the rooms and of the formal gardens.  I took a number of pictures, of course.  Here they are.

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Impressive, yes?  And so ended my first tour.  I hope you enjoyed Europe as it looked in 1977. 


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